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Johnston may take transfer bid to DRA

Seanie Johnston will consider taking his transfer case to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) after the GAA's Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) turned down his request to move to a club in Kildare.

Johnston has until next Wednesday to decide if he wants a legal opinion on the CCCC's decision to rule against him on the grounds that he didn't satisfy the criteria set out under the terms of Rule 9.6 of the Official Guide, which governs the "permanent residency" requirement of an inter-county transfer.

Essentially, the CCCC, the controlling body in such matters, were not satisfied that the address in Straffan that Johnston claimed as his residence was permanent.

And two leading Kildare officials, who went before the CCCC on Wednesday to answer questions on the transfer, were not able to convince members of the committee that Johnston was a permanent resident of Straffan.

The rules on inter-county transfers are clear-cut in the Official Guide, and on that basis the former Cavan player, released by Breffni manager Val Andrews last October from his panel, would find it difficult to win a case at DRA level. The criteria for establishing 'permanent residence' would be the same.

As Johnston works in Cavan and has no obvious connection to Straffan or Kildare apart from a desire to play football there, the CCCC came to the conclusion that his situation wasn't commensurate with the 'ethos' of the GAA's inter-county transfer rules, which are community based.

Johnston is intent on transferring to St Kevin's, whose chairman Martin Murray suggested yesterday that the DRA is an option to be considered.

However, funding such a move could be prohibitive for an individual. There's a cost of €1,000 to have a case heard and there could also be significant legal fees in setting out that case.

That's a tall order for an individual, a club and even a county board like Kildare if they were to lend support to the player's case. Kildare have built up significant debts in recent years -- they are trying to reduce them with a fundraising drive aimed at securing €1,000 donations from 1,000 individuals.


Johnston set out his case to move in January when he expressed a desire to play inter-county football again after being dropped from the Cavan squad.

Cavan manager Val Andrews has not spoken publicly on the Johnston case or why such a talented player was left off in the first place.

Initially Johnston tried to declare for Kildare without switching clubs but the CCCC blocked that in January.

He then submitted a transfer request to move away from Cavan Gaels but Cavan County Board registered a concern at the beginning of last month about his residency.

The basis of that concern forced CCCC to investigate and over a period of three weeks Johnston, Cavan County Board chairman Tom Reilly and officials of Kildare County Board have all been questioned by CCCC.

Cavan Gaels chairman Michael Mooney expressed the hope yesterday that the CCCC decision may bring closure to the affair and that Johnston would be back playing for Cavan Gaels in the coming days. "We'd hope that Sean will draw a line in the sand on this and come back," he said.

Two weeks ago Johnston trained with Cavan Gaels -- a move that can't have gone down well in Kildare.

There have been recent suggestions that his club have been trying to instigate some form of dialogue open up between the player and the board or team management. But this has not happened.

After coming so far with it, strong consideration will be given to the legal route by the player.

Irish Independent

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